17 Naked celebrities! Or: What Google really wants
Has your website shown a sudden improvement in page rank? If so, you may be one of the beneficiaries of Google’s most recent algorithm update. Like the changes in March and April of this year, this is a broad core algorithm update that tweaks page ranking data in order to deliver better search results.
In a tweet confirming the update, which SEO professionals had suspected based on fluctuations in site performance, Google advised, “Our guidance about such issues remains the same as in March.”
What they said back then, also via a series of tweets, was similar to what they’ve shared repeatedly in the past: “As with any update, some sites may note drops or gains.
There’s nothing wrong with pages that may now perform less well. Instead, it’s that changes to our systems are benefiting pages that were previously under-rewarded….
There’s no ‘fix’ for pages that may perform less well other than to remain focused on building great content.”
So for websites that are seeing a boost in search performance, the news is good – you’re doing well at creating what Google considers to be quality content. Woohoo! But for those that are taking a hit from this latest update, it’s time to consider making improvements to your content strategy as well as the writing and editing processes you have in place.
If your content isn’t making the cut, you’ll probably be wondering what Google actually wants. The answer is spelled out in the company’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines – perfectly accessible, as long as you don’t mind reading through a 164-page document! It’s important to note that this is not the search algorithm itself, but rather a guide for the folks who are charged with evaluating web pages so that Google can see how well their algorithm is working.
Also good to know: Google updated the Rater Guidelines just a week before rolling out the core algorithm update, so we can assume that the latest version reflects the same standards the algorithm is using to determine the page ranks. And what’s new in this updated document?
Jennifer Slegg has done what the rest of us don’t want to, i.e. digging into the old and revised versions to figure out what’s changed. She found that Google doesn’t appreciate clickbait titles that promise more than they deliver (like this one), and there’s a new rating concept that assesses whether the page has a “beneficial purpose” for existing.
These and other minor tweaks to the guidelines should benefit professional service firms, though the impact will probably be minimal. Some updates, however, are quite meaningful, and one of these is particularly relevant to firms that publish a blog. Jennifer reports:
“One of the big changes is that not only are raters looking at the reputation of just the website, raters are tasked with investigating the reputation of the content creator – such as the author of the article or landing page being rated. This will put a greater emphasis on sites needing to have author information and author bios on their articles, especially for those sites that do not use bylines on their content when it isn’t clear on the site itself who authors the articles.”
If your firm’s blogs aren’t attributed to a particular author, think about changing that format and including brief bio information about the partners or staff who write them. Of course, that applies to ghost-written articles as well; simply create a byline and bio for the team member who ostensibly authored the piece so that your firm receives all the respect it deserves.
For years, Google has been telling us that the best way to earn a strong page rank is to focus on creating well-written content that provides useful, credible information for readers. This latest set of updates is just one more effort to make sure search results prioritize web pages that do. In a future article I’ll address other clues to what Google values that are revealed in changes to the rater guidelines.